SAN FELIPE, Mexico – Third-generation desert racer Dan McMillin and Justin B. Smith drove to earn a hard-fought overall and SCORE Trophy Truck victory Saturday during the BFGoodrich Tires 52nd SCORE Baja 500.
McMillin and Smith split the driving in the grueling race through the rugged Baja terrain with temperatures hovering in the 90s with 60 percent humidity along the Sea of Cortez, covering the 493-mile desert race course in eight hours, 29.17 seconds an average speed of 58.08 mph. The pair drove the No. 23 McMillin Racing Chevy C1500 built by Mason Motorsports.
Running in a pack of five monsters of the desert for the majority of the race, the duo pulled away at the end. After penalties were assessed by SCORE adjusting the finishing times of nearly all finishers, McMillin and Smith earned a victory margin of five minutes, 34 seconds over the second-place truck. McMillin started the race and ran to race-mile 329 where Smith got behind the wheel and powered to the finish line at the El Dorado Ranch resort.
With his victory, McMillin also earned at $25,000 contingency bonus from long-time SCORE sponsor and race title sponsor BFGoodrich Tires offered to the winner of this year’s race. It marked the 33rd victory for BFGoodrich Tires-shod overall winning race vehicles.
Joining McMillin on the 52nd SCORE Baja 500 podium were the pairing of Tim Herbst and Pat Dean and Daniel’s younger brother, Luke McMillin.
Herbst and his co-driver Dean finished first unofficially but the review of their data tracking device automatically gave them a couple of time penalties that ultimately cost them the top spot.
With veteran Dean driving from the start to race mile 280 and Herbst handling the wheel the balance of the way, the pair recorded an adjusted time of 8:34:51 in their No. 19 Monster Energy Terrible Herbst Motorsports Herbst-Smith built Ford F-150.
Luke McMillin, another third-generation desert racer, mixed it up with his older brother Daniel McMillin throughout the race, finishing in third place overall and in SCORE Trophy Truck with a time of 8:45:15 in the No. 83 Mark Racing Racer-built Ford F-150.
Riding the No. 1x Honda CRF450X, Mark Samuels and his three-rider team raced to the overall motorcycle victory for his ninth consecutive overall motorcycle win in the SCORE World Desert Championship and his fourth overall win in the Baja 500. The trio crossed the finish line in 10:50:11 at an average speed of 44.76 mph.
Morgan split the riding with Justin Morgan, who won his fifth overall motorcycle crown in the last six years in this race and Justin Jones, who won his second consecutive SCORE overall motorcycle title.
Samuels started and quickly switched to Morgan. Morgan rode to race mile 236. Samuels rode from race mile 236 to race mile to 395. Jones rode from race mile 395 to race mile 459. Samuels rode from race mile 459 to the finish.
With three finishers in the top-10 overall 4-wheel vehicles, winning Trophy Truck Spec was the team of Santiago Creel and Jorge Sampietro. Second in the class and ninth overall was the team of William Hedrick Jr. and William Hedrick and third in their class and 10th overall was Clay Lawrence.
Winning Class 1 and finishing fifth overall was Cody Parkhouse and his father Brian Parkhouse. Finishing second in Class 1 and seventh overall was the team of NASCAR veteran Brendan Gaughan and Buddy Feldkamp.
Defeating 36 total UTVs to win the overall UTV win title and her Pro UTV NA in this year’s race was Kristen Matlock, a racing mother of two and wife of PRO UTV FI star Wayne Matlock, with a winning time of 10:49:02 in her No. 2971 Polaris RZR XP4 1000.
In the SCORE Legend class for SCORE Trophy Truck drivers over 50 years old, Nick Vanderwey survived the carnage in his class of five starters to win his class as the substitute driver for driver of record Clyde Stacy. Vanderwey drove from the start to race-mile 360 and Jeff Geiser took it from there to the finish for the team’s second straight victory in the SCORE Baja 500.